For those who enjoy the clues and guesswork of a crime show or thriller, one group of local actors is providing the experience in real life.
Mobile Mystery Interactive Entertainment is made up of local actors, who create an interactive mystery for their guests to solve at parties, fundraisers or other gatherings.
Chelle Decker, one of the group's founding members, said it began with a fundraiser for KTWU Public Radio and has continued to grow for about four years. The group has performed for such companies as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, Capital Federal and Washburn University.
“It’s great for employees because it focuses on creativity and teamwork, so some elements of what we do are for corporate, and some we just go out to Glacier’s Edge Winery and do murder mysteries for them,” she said. “So we kind of have been doing a bit of everything, and it’s really fun.”
Other founders are Dan Decker, Jaryl Perkins, Taryn Temple and Robin Bonsall. But, Decker said they have an extensive list of acting friends to help when needed.
Each show is different, Decker said. A lead for the group creates a story line and assigns actors a character, with a few guiding traits and an alibi for them at the end of the mystery.
But everything that happens in between is up to the audience.
“Sometimes you get this quiet group who look at you like you’re crazy when you come in,” Decker said, “But by the end you’ve got them all totally into it. Other times, like the people who come to Glacier’s Edge Winery, they’re coming for a mystery. They know what the entertainment is going to be and they love mystery.”
Guests ask the cast questions and interact with them, all while compiling clues about who could have committed the crime.
Decker said the story lines change based on the gig. Sometimes they write around a company celebrating its 10-year anniversary, or an event like College Quiz Bowl, and sometimes it is tailored to include guests from the audience.
As an example, Decker recalled a show with Stiefel Investments, “The Case of the Trophy Tragedy," at Glacier's Edge.
The premise of the mystery was a philanthropy awards ceremony where the trophy was never delivered and ended up missing. Throughout the night, guests secretly cast their ballots before the culprit is revealed.
“Typically there will be anywhere from two to 10 characters, depends how many people are there,” Decker said. “Having the audience guess also helps us as performers to see who believes if we were guilty or not, and that makes it more fun.”
Decker said she enjoys the challenge of getting people on board with her ideas and it is one of her favorite aspects of performing. She said turning someone’s bad day around or making them more comfortable in a seemingly awkward situation are things she enjoys.
“That’s why so many of us perform, it’s the transformative experience of it,” Decker said, “And really, truly, you can see people change from the moment we come in until they leave, there’s a difference.”
Decker said all of the shows are family-friendly and that Mobile Mystery offers improv workshops to people who are interested.
Classes focus on the tools of improv, playing games, and working on letting oneself go and becoming more comfortable.
Decker said the group works mainly in Topeka but will travel across northeast Kansas for events. Depending on what is needed, the cost ranges from $400 to $1,200.
For more information about the group, visit its Facebook page, “Mobile Mystery.”